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Should not intelligent, reasonable men of good will be able to agree on all things that matter?

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to
  one who is striking at the root."
- Henry David Thoreau
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Site note: If you would like to save time and skip over reading the rest of this article, using the analogy to the body, here is the salient point in a synopsis:
    We have a body with multifarious features, organs, and systems that interface, interact, and integrate to make the whole. Most of our body and its functions are hidden from our sight and awareness. Our body is largely not the product of our own making, yet is a major part of us while being very complex and powerful in its range of how it affects us. Our body vitality depends on healthy nutrition, and does not operate optimally unless it receives support from a proper diet of food and drink.
    Just so it is with the Will with its features and systems. Most of the Will and its functions are hidden to our sight and awareness, and they are also largely not the product of our own making. Can it be the Will is equally complex and powerful in its range of how it affects us? Can it be that it is overwhelmingly yet unconsciously in control? HOWEVER, if you change what you believe through the power of the intellect, that guarantees a change in what you WILL to think and do.[1] The vitality of our Will depends upon a healthy spiritual diet, and its efficacy of operation upon proper spiritual food.

The Issue of Will versus Intellect
Updated: 09/06/2020

[Abbreviations:  () and  ()]

Not that I agree with him on everything, but the eminent philosopher Schopenhaur is my favorite for three simple reasons: A) He takes materialism head on with logic that destroys it, B) He doesn't dodge the reality of evil in our world, and C) His writing is powerful yet NOT filled with arcane, technical philosophical language and terms.

He paints a vivid picture of the Will, and how dominant and powerful it is, and would almost convince us that we are totally at the mercy of something that controls us, and that we cannot get a handle on to control or change it.

He talks about popular language being "correct when it prefers the "heart" to the "head". The term "heart" reflects the  intentions, emotions and spirit. When a man is converted, it doesn't happen without his emotional dedication to the old belief or belief system being broken and severed.


What is important, any such breach will be temporary unless the new belief or system is ultimately delineated and buttressed by the intellect with a new and stronger emotional connection established. We should all be aware that "backsliding" is common. It essentially WILL happen unless the person is either so disillusioned and upset that they are temporarily disoriented to almost the point of incoherence, OR engulfed in a new intellectual, psychological and social environment that they have found, and where the new thinking is affirmed and allowed to infuse and baptize (saturate) the psyche of the convert.

Aversion conversion

Sometimes the conversion is one of aversion, where the experience of the person was so distasteful or traumatic that they simply reject and shed their beliefs and system. Many times they then either plug into something different–usually scientism–or they try hard to avoid rebuilding or rethinking.

Current personal experience

Currently, I have come into overwhelming unity with two intelligent younger men that have kept their lives on hold to a great degree while they have been seeking the truth. In both cases, they were exposed mostly and significantly to Christianity, but had developed no real attachment or emotional bond with it. Also, in both cases, they "found" me, sought me out, and initiated the ongoing correspondence and conversation. I now cherish their fellowship almost above all other things, and they tell me that they respect me highly. There is NEVER any disrespect, tension, trauma, or disagreement! Whatever it says about me or the other people that I have tried to engage with in a quest for unity, I have spectacularly and consistently failed to do so!

Material quotes as basis for commentary:

"The universities ignored him and his books, as if to substantiate his claim that all advances in philosophy are made outside of academic walls. 'Nothing,' says Nietzsche, 'so offended the German savants as Schopenhauer's unlikeness to them.'" - Will Durant

Commentary: Well said, and how true!

Will above Mind: Man as Homo Damnationis or Homo Confirmitatus or Homo Arbitrium

Almost without exception, philosophers have placed the essence of mind in thought and consciousness; man was the knowing animal, the animal rationale. "This ancient and universal radical error, this enormous proton pseudos,... must before everything be set aside. "Consciousness is the mere surface of our minds, of which, as of the earth, we do not know the inside but only the crust." - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: Most of us know that the Latin term "homo sapiens" means "wise man" or "intelligent man". Schopenhauer and Durant are claiming that this is somewhat grandiose and in denial, and is not the best term. They would probably suggest "homo arbitrium", which means "man of will, decision or authority, or maybe "homo Confirmitatus", which means firmness of will, obstinacy or self-assurance.
     Most believers in religion are in deep denial and ignorance of the true landscape of the human psyche, its various aspects and facets, and especially the nature and power of the will. They are happy to hear Paul plead his weakness and inability to deal with it and leave it in God's hands, and this they also do. They do NOT understand the relationship of being free with a truly inspired, positive, worship-based vision–where we are exalted to being free, sovereign, equal, empowered citizens of the universe–and its natural efficacious effect upon spiritual growth. The traditional guilt and fear-based vision where we are motivated by what "God" wants instead of what WE want and need will never engender the thirst for the truth that sets us to be as free as the creator is. They embrace the traditional ploy of beg-God-to-change-you vision, yet do not realize that God is NOT in the business of tinkering with the sovereign self. They generally operate within some level of denial, legalism and effort to change versus the natural growth paradigm, and they do not understand the relationship of the intellect, emotions and will.

The Pervasive Will

"Consciousness is the mere surface of our minds, of which, as of the earth, we do not know the inside but only the crust." Under the conscious intellect is the conscious or unconscious will, a striving, persistent vital force, a spontaneous activity, a will of imperious desire. The intellect may seem at times to lead the will, but only as a guide leads his master; the will "is the strong blind" man who carries on his shoulders the lame man who can see." We do not want a thing because we have found reasons for it, we find reasons for it because we want it; we even elaborate philosophies and theologies to cloak our desires.
     Hence Schopenhauer calls man the "metaphysical animal": other animals desire without metaphysics. "Nothing is more provoking, when we are arguing against a man with reasons and explanations, and taking all pains to convince him, than to discover at last that he will not understand, that we have to do with his will." Hence the uselessness of logic: no one ever convinced anybody by logic; and even logicians use logic only as a source of income. - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: What far and wide ranging truth the above paragraph exposits! It is probably a challenge to or even a partial condemnation of this site, because it may have too much of an emphasis on an appeal to logic and reason. The author of this site has had to go through a long process of breaking the emotional bond to his past religion, religious culture and practice. To do this he has had to elevate the intellect and focus on an intellectual defense of his newfound truth. He has had to present it–to others AND primarily to himself–with logic and reason, and has not necessarily learned how best to appeal to the will.

Self Interest

To convince a man, you must appeal to his self-interest, his desires, his will. Observe how long we remember our victories, and how soon we forget our defeats; memory is the menial of will. "In doing accounts we make mistakes much oftener in our own favor than to our disadvantage; and this without the slightest dishonest intention.” "On the other hand, the understanding of the stupidest man becomes keen when objects are in question that closely concern his wishes." in general, the intellect is developed by danger, as in the fox, or by want, as in the criminal. But always it seems subordinate and instrumental to desire; when it attempts to displace the will, confusion follows. No one is more liable to mistakes than he who acts only on reflection. - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: Note the first sentence. This is raw, prime, hard-hitting, fundamental truth set down in clear writing! YES! Self-interest! how can we think that God does not operate from enlightened self-interest? NOTHING else will do, because we are NOT made to operate from any other inspiration, like fear or obligation! Oh, we can get pumped up by an appeal to pathos, virtue, heroism, charity, obligation, etc., but it diminishes us and doesn't endure. It also doesn't unseat self-interest but only occludes or shoulders it aside temporarily.

Will as permanent and Unchangeable

"The will is the only permanent and unchangeable element in the mind; . . . it is the will which," through continuity of purpose, 'gives unity to consciousness and holds together all its ideas and thoughts, accompanying them like a continuous harmony.'" It is the organ-point of thought. - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: "Unchangeable", yes, except by the ONE lever, the ONE way of the "narrow path".

Definition of Character

Character lies in the will, and not in the intellect; character too is continuity of purpose and attitude: and these are will. Popular language is correct when it prefers the "heart" to the "bead"; it knows (because it has not reasoned about it) that a "good will" is profounder and more reliable than a clear mind; and when it calls a man "shrewd," "knowing," or "cunning" it implies its suspicion and dislike. "Brilliant qualities of mind win admiration, but never affection"; and "all religions promise a reward ... for excellences of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding." - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: What a great definition/description of character! What a great exposition of spiritual reality as we experience it in human society Why do we not hear this in our academic and religious classes?

The Indefatigable Will

"The intellect tires, the will never; the intellect needs sleep, but the will works even in sleep. Fatigue, like pain, has its seat in the brain; muscles not connected with the cerebrum (like the heart) never tire. In sleep the brain feeds; but the will requires no food. Hence the need for sleep is greatest in brain-workers. (This fact, however, "must not mislead us into extending sleep unduly; for then it loses in intensity ... and becomes mere loss of time.") In sleep the life of man sinks to the vegetative level, and then "the will works according to its original and essential nature, undisturbed from without, with no diminution of its power through the activity of the brain and the exertion of knowing, which is the heaviest organic function; . . . therefore in sleep the whole power of the will is directed to the maintenance and improvement of the organism. Hence all healing, all favorable crises, take place in sleep." - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: There seems to be much good reality reporting and reasoning here, and we need to hear it and consider it.

Will as Essence of Man

"Will, then, is the essence of man. Now what if it is also the essence of life in all its forms, and even of "inanimate" matter? What if will is the long-sought-for, the long-despaired-of, "thing-in-itself,"–the ultimate inner reality and secret essence of all things?" - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: We can to a significant degree align with the first sentence and the first phrase of the question, BUT "will" is just ONE part of Man, and can be considered as no more important than the intellect, or even body chemistry BECAUSE, let body chemistry get too far out of balance, and the issue of will becomes moot.
     Yet, I see that the focus of science has been on the physical body, and despite the extensive history of religion and the vaunted science of psychology (soul science), the spiritual aspects of Man and their relationships are poorly understood.
     Let me set the stage: It is widely understood that the physical body has different systems that interface and integrate to make the whole. Systems like the nerve system, the endocrine system, the circulatory system, the cellular replacement system, the skeletal system, the muscular system, the immune system, the respiratory system, the five sensory systems with their sub-systems, the dermal and epidermal system, the sexual system of two distinctive–at least they used to be distinctive–genders, the reproductive system and sub-systems of two different genders, the temperature regulatory systems, the digestive system, the respiratory system, the excretory systems and sub-systems, the bicameral brain-mind system, the electrolytic control system, and the damage warning and control system with its tissue repair system. Most of the systems have sub-systems.
     It is easily realized that a single cell has a magnitude of complexity that surpasses any technological system designed by mankind. The body uses aspects of electricity and magnetism, hydraulics and fluid dynamics, mechanics, chemistry, optics, etc. Have I left anything out? The body has a complex set of needs for health, vitality and survival. The responsible people pay a certain amount of attention to maintain their health, and continually learns about how to protect and sustain their body with its needs. They generally don't leave this all in the hands of God
     I reiterate this sizeable list of at least two dozen major physical systems to refresh our awareness in order to pose these questions:

  • Why do we assume that the spiritual side of Man–will, emotion, intelligence, intellect, spirit (attitude) etc.,–does not have comparable systems and sub-systems that interface, influence, interact and integrate? After all, do we not have spiritual systems? A value system, a belief system, a religious system (not the same thing), a conscience system, a personality system, an emotional control system, a social support system, a self-worth and self-identity system, a public façade system, etc.

  • Why assume there is any less complexity?

  • Why assume that IF we focused on this we could not see these aspects as clearly as the body features?

  • Is it possible that IF we got our spiritual corpus of systems “tuned up” and functioning properly, other dimensions and abilities like telepathy would more readily surface?

  • Have we now even more turned our focus away from the more important side of Man?

  • Have we been so intellectually irresponsible that we are profoundly ignorant about our own ignorance?

Consider that in modern society or medicine, there is little to no disagreement about anatomy or the existing organic systems. There is no such consensus regarding the spiritual features and faculties!
     Will Durant may have strayed into mysticism with the balance of this passage.

Will as Ultimate Reality

"Let us try, then, to interpret the external world in terms of will. And let us go at once to the bottom; where others have said that will is a form of force let us say that force is a form of will. To Hume's question–What is causality?–we shall answer, Will. As will is the universal cause in ourselves, so is it in things; and unless we so understand cause as will, causality will remain only a magic and mystic formula, really meaningless. Without this secret we are driven to mere occult qualities like "force," or "gravity," or "affinity"; we do not know what these forces are, but we know–at least a little more clearly–what will is; let us say, then, that repulsion and attraction, combination and decomposition, magnetism and electricity, gravity and crystallization, are Will." - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: The new "scientistic" view of the world that Bryan Appleyard is railing against in his book Understanding the Present is–to borrow Gelett Burgess' term–the one of the "Clockwork Orange". Spiritually, it is a sterile, monochromatic, mechanistic and desultory one based only on causality with purpose winnowed out, and yet purpose is practically synonymous with will. However, the last phrase above strays into mysticism, makes "will" into the creator, the Prime Mover, and is unnecessary to the proper exposition of will.

Primary Focus of Will.

    "The will, of course, is a will to live, and a will to maximum life. How dear life is to all living things!...The will is a will to live; and its eternal enemy is death.
    "But perhaps it can defeat even death?"- Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: WHAT A CONCEPT! Thank you, Durant, for voicing the premise of the IFISEEKUS site and the bottom line! Maybe the time has come?

The Importance of Self

We like to believe that all history is a halting and imperfect preparation for the magnificent era of which we are the salt and summit; but this notion of progress is mere conceit and folly. "In general, the wise in all ages have always said the same things, and the fools, who at all times form the immense majority, have in their way too acted alike, and done the opposite; and so it will continue. For, as Voltaire says, we shall leave the world as foolish and wicked as we found it." - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: As much truth as there is in the premise, the conclusion is pessimistic, defeatist and uninspiring! The purpose of the universe is either for us or we are just its byproduct! That the "notion of progress is mere conceit and folly" seems to be true, it may NOT be valid. If we think we see enough of the big picture to draw this conclusion, are we not being arrogant?

Will and Determinism

"In the light of all this we get a new and grimmer sense of the inescapable reality of determinism. 'Spinoza says (Epistle 82) that if a Stone which has been projected through the air had consciousness, it would believe that it was moving of its own free will. I add to this only that the stone would be right. The impulse given it is for the stone what the motive is for me; and what in the stone appears as cohesion, gravitation, rigidity, is in its inner nature the same as that which I recognize in myself as well, and what the stone also, if knowledge were given to it, would recognize as will.' But in neither the stone nor the philosopher is the will "free". 'Will as a whole is free, for there is no other will beside it that could limit it; but each part of the universal Will–each species, each organism, each organ–is irrevocably determined by the whole.'" - Will Durant

Commentary on what is above: Again, I think that Spinoza and Will Durant are crossing the line into desultory mysticism and defeatism, and whereby we have been reduced to intelligent, stimulus-response meat sticks. The whole idea of "free will" here is different from what is usually meant. I/We have a will, but it should NOT be entirely free to do its own thing, but should serve ME/US! "I" should be free, and my will is just a part of me; I have a body, but it should not be entirely free to do its own thing. I am NOT my will any more than I am my body. My mind is empowered to control–above the basic housekeeping functionality–what my body does, and the same can be said about my intellect being empowered over my will.

A vision to die for (double entendre intended)

This is a very dark and grim picture of Man and the human condition portrayed by Arthur Schopenhaur and Will Durant. But do I hear what these men are saying? Oh yes! It IS the usual norm, and what they have experienced. They ARE simply being faithful reporters of what they see, but I neither accept nor agree with such a deterministic condition and fate. What these two marvelous intellects have never considered is that they are missing something, which I call the good news. A "good news" glorious enough to BREAK out of or cut through the emotional bonds between our/their vision and our/their cauterized will. A vision that is so inspiring that it TRANSCENDS the otherwise inescapable conclusion to which these two remarkable men have come.

Given that the term "will" is generally associated with life and intelligence, I would suggest that the statements above by Arthur Schopenhaur and Will Durant are consonant with the idea of a Creator, although the darkness and determinism are incompatible with a "God".

I would opine that the vision delivered by the "Revelation", fully supported by the "Demonstration", is so powerful–powerful enough to transcend the conclusions offered above by Arthur Schopenhaur and Will Durant–because it elevates human value and worth, liberty and freedom, autonomy and sovereignty, and destiny to the highest level possible or conceivable. When you raise your sights and see it, you want it, and can't walk away from it.


A-Materialism  "If we had followed materialism thus far with clear ideas, when we reached its highest point we would suddenly be seized with a fit of the inextinguishable laughter of the Olympians. As if waking from a dream, we would all at once become aware that its fatal result–knowledge–which it had reached so laboriously, was presupposed as the indispensable condition of its very starting-point. Mere matter; and when we imagined that we thought matter, we really thought only the subject that perceives matter: the eye that sees it, the hand that feels it, the understanding that knows it. Thus the tremendous petitio principii reveals itself unexpectedly; for suddenly the last link is seen to be the starting-point, the chain of a circle; and the materialist is like Baron Münchausen, who, when swimming on horseback, drew the horse into the air with his legs, and himself by his queue? The crude materialism which even now, in the middle of the nineteenth century, has been served up again under the ignorant delusion that it is original, ... stupidity denies vital force, and first of all tries to explain the phenomena of life from physical and chemical forces, and those again from the mechanical effects of matter.... But I will never believe that even the simplest chemical combination will ever admit of mechanical explanation; much less the properties of light, heat, and electricity. These will always require a dynamical explanation." - Arthur Schopenhaur

B. Reality of Evil  "Seldom had the problem of evil been flung so vividly and insistently into the face of philosophy and religion." - Will Durant

C. Arcane Terminology  "found in him a philosopher who offered them no mere pretentious jargon of metaphysical unrealities, but an intelligible survey of the phenomena of actual life....Here is no Chinese puzzle of Kantian terminology, no Hegelian obfuscation, no Spinozist geometry; everything is clarity and order; and all is admirably centered about the leading conception of the world as will" - Will Durant

[1] This is NOT theory for me, because I HAVE radically changed what I believe, and it has motivated me to naturally and radically change almost every aspect of my life: my attitude, my values, my focus, my agenda, my interests, my behavior, my emotions, my style, my diet, my friends and relationships, etc.

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